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Most sympathetic Hollywood treatment of working class rebellion?

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yoda's walking stick
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Jul 23 2011 17:16
Most sympathetic Hollywood treatment of working class rebellion?

What do you think that would be, Warren Beatty's "Reds?"

Samotnaf
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Jul 23 2011 17:27

"Total Recall" (based on the Philip K. Dick story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”), starring that working class hero Arnold Schwarzenegger, has the mutant proletariat rising up to victory on Mars. Far better than "Reds".

yoda's walking stick
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Jul 23 2011 17:31

I'll have to check it out if you're not being completely sarcastic.

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Ed
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Jul 23 2011 17:33

Yeah, all I remember about 'Reds' is that it was really long!

Now Matewan, that's my shit right there.. also, keep an eye out, you'll see Dr. Bob Kelso from Scrubs as a militant miner..

Samotnaf
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Jul 23 2011 17:38

Not being sarcastic - just that lefty worthy stuff is generally pretty boring. Total Recal definitely has a proletarian victory at the end, though, iirc, it's the hero that leads them to it - though that's the same in Reds, isn't it? (Schwarzenegger or Lenin? - take your pick).

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Jul 23 2011 17:57

office space

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Steven.
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Jul 23 2011 18:34
Ed wrote:
Yeah, all I remember about 'Reds' is that it was really long!

Now Matewan, that's my shit right there.. also, keep an eye out, you'll see Dr. Bob Kelso from Scrubs as a militant miner..

yeah, Matewan is bad ass.

Harlan County War is another similar one, a fictionalised strike from the 70s.

I fell asleep during Reds, and never bothered watching the end.

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arminius
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Jul 23 2011 18:40
Steven. wrote:
Ed wrote:
Yeah, all I remember about 'Reds' is that it was really long!

Now Matewan, that's my shit right there.. also, keep an eye out, you'll see Dr. Bob Kelso from Scrubs as a militant miner..

yeah, Matewan is bad ass.

Harlan County War is another similar one, a fictionalised strike from the 70s.

I fell asleep during Reds, and never bothered watching the end.

We won't spoil it for you then wink

I can't wait to see the fuller, refound version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, but since I'm still waiting, I guess that doesn't count as a recommendation. Also, not technically a 'Hollywood' production, I suppose.

yoda's walking stick
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Jul 23 2011 18:46

I actually preferred Reds to Matewan, which I found slow. I very much enjoyed Harlan County USA, but that's a documentary.

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Jul 23 2011 19:01

I was talking about Harlan County War, which is a Hollywood fictionalised version of the documentary.

Yoda, you are crazy if you thought Matewan was slow, especially compared to Reds. The English Patient was fast-paced compared to Reds

Black Badger
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Jul 23 2011 19:18
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I fell asleep during Reds, and never bothered watching the end.

Did "Reds" have an ending? What a wank fest; the only good thing about the entire hagiography was Maureen Stapleton's portrayal of Emma Goldman, a consistent thorn in the side of authoritarians.

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Jul 23 2011 19:54

'Blue Collar' (1978), with Harvey Keitel and the only time I've liked Richard Pryor.

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flaneur
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Jul 23 2011 21:43
arminius wrote:
Steven. wrote:
Ed wrote:
Yeah, all I remember about 'Reds' is that it was really long!

Now Matewan, that's my shit right there.. also, keep an eye out, you'll see Dr. Bob Kelso from Scrubs as a militant miner..

yeah, Matewan is bad ass.

Harlan County War is another similar one, a fictionalised strike from the 70s.

I fell asleep during Reds, and never bothered watching the end.

We won't spoil it for you then wink

I can't wait to see the fuller, refound version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, but since I'm still waiting, I guess that doesn't count as a recommendation. Also, not technically a 'Hollywood' production, I suppose.

I dunno what the incomplete version is like but in the full one, the riot is shown to be a wild affair and the ending is just shite, even Lang said it was optimistic Weimar rubbish.

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Jul 23 2011 22:01

I agree about Total Recall. With such classic lines as "Give de people air!" and "See you at the party Richter...*drops severed arms into the abyss*"

Phillip K. Dick is a terrible stylist, some of his work is very badly written, but his stories and ideas pick up on some really interesting themes in late capitalism. Hence great films like Total Recall and Blade Runner being made based on his work. I personally think Blade Runner would have been better if they had kept to the original story behind the Dick's book which can be read as arguing for the need to destroy the autonomy of the commodity (robots are not human even if they appear to have a life of their own (like commodities)). A lot of his work can be read as this invasion of 'real abstraction' into everyday life.

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Jul 24 2011 00:23

Queimada seemed quite good when I saw it (ages ago). Bit's are politically dodgy but it has some interesting nuances and bits of storyline, agent provocateurs, national bourgeois attempting to sidetrack the revolution, capitalisms relationship to the (colonial) state etc. etc.

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Jul 24 2011 10:08

I’m being a little pedantic, but ‘Matewan’, though a great movie, was not a ‘Hollywood’ film. In the interesting book ‘Past Imperfect - History According To The Movies’ (Cassell, 1996), in an interview with the historian Eric Foner, the director John Sayles agreed with Foner -

‘In Matewan and your other films, if I’m not mistaken, you abjure not only Hollywood money and Hollywood control but also Hollywood techniques of, you might say, melodrama – I mean, the usual ways in which films hook people. There’s no sex in Matewan, no affair between Joe Kenehan and some woman in the town…’

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Fall Back
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Jul 24 2011 10:50

Another vote for Total Recall, such a good film.

Samotnaf
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Jul 24 2011 18:31

Agree with Malva about PKDick - and A Scanner Darkly is also worth reading (movie's not too bad, either).

But in relation to Queimada, I think Marlon Brando, who stars in the movie, collaborated with Pontecorvo in its making. Briefly, post-69 Brando adopted something of a semi-critique of this society (so many did briefly). He said round about this time: “Why should anyone care about what any movie star has to say? A movie star is nothing important. Freud, Gandhi, Marx – these people are important. But movie acting is just dull, boring, childish work…”. One might question his list of “important” heroes, but the point is – are there any celebrities who question themselves nowadays?

However, the end of Queimada doesn't lead to a successful working class uprising - the uprising is in the middle , iirc, and is then co-opted/defeated.

Pontecorvo, who made Queimada, is better remelmberd for "Battle of Algiers", which does end with the uprising in Algeria - but it's not a Hollywood movie. Significantly, the film was banned for decades in France!!!

Sean68
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Jul 24 2011 19:21

Boxcar Bertha by Martin Scorsese

nastyned
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Jul 24 2011 20:17

I heard on the radio a while back that when they were filming Spartacus they were told not to make the slaves look too good!

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Jul 24 2011 20:50

I fucking love Total Recall, I'll be avoiding the Colin Farrell remake like the plague. How can it ever top this?:

GIV DIS PEOPLE AYA!

yoda's walking stick
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Jul 24 2011 21:36
Auld-bod wrote:
‘Past Imperfect - History According To The Movies’ (Cassell, 1996)

I like this book.

Alexander Roxwell
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Jul 24 2011 21:43

Hollywood appears to suffer a "Leninist" streak when it is "good."

The actual workers never really take the initiative themselves. It is always someone "from the outside" breaking ranks from the "bad guys" that comes and teaches the kind of slow-witted dummies "how." They are good little followers and when they get over their ingrown "worker chauvinism" and accept the leadership of the outsider then Moses will lead them to the promised land.

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Jul 24 2011 22:01
Samotnaf wrote:
However, the end of Queimada doesn't lead to a successful working class uprising - the uprising is in the middle , iirc, and is then co-opted/defeated.

True that the uprising is defeated but that's beside the point. It isn't the most sympathetic treatment of rebellion but that's probably why i quite liked it. There are many clumsy and sloppy aspects to the film though.

Samotnaf wrote:
Pontecorvo, who made Queimada, is better remelmberd for "Battle of Algiers", which does end with the uprising in Algeria - but it's not a Hollywood movie. Significantly, the film was banned for decades in France!!!

Battle of Algiers is much better and more serious as a film. Certainly no sloppy moments! It all feels super controlled. For some reason I have a weakness for slightly clumsy directors. I quite like Werner Herzog.

I havent seen Total Recall for many, many, many years but it pops into my head every now and then. Somehow a perfect film for Arnold, the K.Dick magick is strong in that one.

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Jul 25 2011 00:37

When people say 'Hollywood' do they basically mean any American film or any film thats part of the study system?

Would Blade Runner fit the OP? Because its potentially a film about autonomy and the consciousness of part of the labour force.

ETA - Norma Rae and Salt of the earth.

Samotnaf
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Jul 25 2011 07:16

Saw Salt of the Earth about 40 years ago, so not sure if I totally recall it correctly, but it seemed pretty much like an almost Stalinist social realist depiction of the goody goody working class (though, iirc, it had a bit of a feminist angle which was a little bit advanced for its time) which Eisenstein first developed in support of bureaucratic class power in the USSR.
Norma Rae seemed like an ad for joining unions (unlike Blue Collar, which Auld-bod recommends, which, in keeping with the far more subversive times when the film came out in the late 70s, was pretty critical of unions).
As for Metropolis - apparently it was one of Hitler's favourite movies - which doesn't mean it's crap any more than his vegetarianism means vegetables are a fascist plot...

Also One flew over the cuckoos nest has some kind of 'uprising' in it, but it too has the individual superhero that Roxwell rightly criticises here (the book, btw, is far better).
And Runaway Train's a good expression of class conflict, though it's presented mainly at an individual level; screenplay's by some marxist, iirc.

Anyone seen Themroc? it's a French pro-situ piece of cultural recuperation from the early 70s - worth seeing - very funny; not Hollywood, but kind of ends with an uprising - e.g. Colouche, who spends all the movie cleaning and polishing his car, takes a sledgehammer to it. Also it's the only movie that is spoken in a kind of esperanto - no need for dubbing or subtitles when shown in any non-French speaking country.

Of course, movies are obviously cultural commodities recuperating critiques of, and representing, contradictions without ever trying to, or being able to, seriously incite a challenge to them - they're just a false exit from the prison of passivity that our rulers want us to stay in....

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Jul 25 2011 07:31

Accidental post

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Jul 25 2011 07:31

If we are going to move beyond Hollywood then I'd suggest the New Bablyon which depicts the Commune very positively. I did a screening of it at my uni recently and it went down well. Also Germinal is about a strike in a mining town in North East France (like 90 percent of French films it has Gerard Depardieu in it).

The majority of working-class rebellion films seem to be more about individuals than communities. Kind Hearts and Coronets is fantastic as is Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (much loved by Guy Debord apparently).

Samotnaf
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Jul 25 2011 08:18

Kind Hearts and Coronets is a good funny movie but hardly fits in the category of the working class uprising (if we're goiing to mention Ealing comedies Whiskey Galore or Passport to Pimlico are closer to the OP's focus). And Saturday Night and Sunday Morning's good (one of the first serious UK cinema takes on working class characters) - has the classic opening line (from memory) "I'm just out to have a good time - the rest is propaganda", narrated over the guy working in a factory - but nothing to do with a working class uprising (from the same epoch and in the same genre and by the same original author - Alan Sillitoe - The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner's a better movie imo and more clearly about working class rebellion, though just at an indvidual level). And what about Lindsay Anderson's If - not a working class uprising ending, but an anti-authoritarian uprising ending nevertheless.

And nobody's mentioned Spartacus, perhaps because it's too obvious.

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Jul 25 2011 08:53

@ Samotnaf - Obviously they don't have anything to do with an uprising as that implies more than one person. And the main character in Kind Hearts and Coronets is working-class, he is an alienated shop clerk who is inspired to kill his way through the upper classes when an aristocratic relative treats him like crap at work.

Samotnaf
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Jul 25 2011 09:57

Obviously I'm gonna have to look at "Kind hearts..." again, because all I remember about it is that Dennis Price talking and behaving like...well, Dennis Price - very upper class; don't remember him being a shop clerk and thought he killed them for the money since he was 8th ( or something like that ) in succession to the inheritance; but maybe I've completely misremembered it.